For the dental profession, the Scottish Government must now ‘step up’
I had intended this editorial to be a deep dive into the emergence of a number of new organisations representing the profession. The British Association of Private Dentistry (BAPD) – “the only nonprofit organisation that exclusively represents private dentistry, promoting choice and quality care for patients” – was formed in April.
In June “over 400 dental practice owners representing 700-plus NHS practices and approximately 2.7 million NHS patients … formed the SDPO [Scottish Dental Practice Owners] group to try and work with the Scottish Government to ensure the safety of dental patients and the future viability of NHS dental practices”.
The following month, the Scottish Dental Association was formed “from a group of like-minded dentists who wish to have Scottish dental matters from all dental professionals discussed, negotiated and actioned”.
Publicly, each of these organisations professes a wish to be complementary rather than competitive. Behind the scenes, unsurprisingly, there are grumblings. On paper, there is no reason why each should not exist. The BAPD represents a clearly defined group – private dentists. So too, does the SDPO – practice owners. And why, in this era of devolved government (and, potentially, Scottish independence) should there not be a Scottish dental association?
The problem is that, currently, the Scottish Government recognises only one organisation as representing the profession, and that is the British Dental Association (BDA).
As the report of the meeting that the Scottish Dental Practice Committee (SDPC) held with Tom Ferris, Scotland’s Chief Dental Officer (CDO), on 5 August notes: “[The CDO] explained that he and the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing viewed BDA Scotland/SDPC as key stakeholders and chose to negotiate only with them.”
But, perhaps the more – and louder – voices the better; because the far bigger news this autumn was the publication on 25 September of the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme’s (SDCEP) review of aerosol generating procedures (AGPs).1
Professor Jeremy Bagg, who chaired the review’s working group, told Scottish Dental magazine: “The thoughtful, collaborative and respectful ways in which all the members engaged was central to completion of this very challenging project within the timeframe achieved. Furthermore, the huge volume of work undertaken by the SDCEP central team, under considerable time pressure, was remarkable. If the outputs of the rapid review are reflected in the official guidance that will follow, then all of these efforts will have been very worthwhile.”
As Scottish Dental went to print, we still awaited the Scottish Government’s guidance. But as the BDA – the only organisation it currently recognises as representing the profession – stated: “If these recommendations evolve into requirements, then governments will need to step up and offer direct financial support.”
1Mitigation of Aerosol Generating Procedures In Dentistry —A Rapid Review: https://www.sdcep.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/SDCEP-Mitigation-of-AGPS-in-Dentistry-Rapid-Review.pdf